Making The Connection Is More Vital Then Ever

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There has been some interesting discussion online about the upcoming Palm Pre and the announced Media Sync capabilities that has raised some eyebrows in tech circles, specifically the ability of the Pre to sync itself to iTunes. Researchers (including 'DVD John') are theorising that the Pre is pretending to be an iPod when connected, which raises a lot of potentially tricky questions. But the fact is that connectivity to a multitude of media sources is vital for a modern smartphone.


One of the biggest leaps forward that Nokia made with their music focussed smartphones was to make them compatible with Windows Media Player on the PC and have them appear as standard 'Media Devices.' Not only did it mean that the regular home computer would see the device and have an easy way to move music to the device, but it meant that the third party solutions by other developers, over multiple OS platforms, would also recognise and be able to manage the music, initially on the N91 but expanding out to the full Nseries range over the following months and years.

This is a far better approach to Nokia writing their own software, and while there may be fans of Nokia's Music Manager section of the PC Suite, it's little more than a big list of all the music on your computer, and a 'copy to phone' button. There are few filters, the searching for music on the list is mainly by eye, and it seems to be there just so they can say that there is 'an alternative to Windows Media Player.'

But be honest, do you really rate Nokia's Music Manager?

While not a fully open standard, embracing this means that there are multiple options available to users, and developers can target new solutions at users, such as Doubletwist, a media manager that has the ability to sync with many different devices from one application on your home computer. Palm have decided, with their initial focus on the US and 'high end' market that the option of connecting of iTunes is the only way to go.

While I can see their thought process (and they do have a lot of ex-Apple engineers) I think it's far better that manufacturers and developers move with documented solutions such as Windows Media Player, using available codes such as MP3, AAC and OGG, and making sure that there are always options - even if it is just a USB Mass Memory mode and you do the transfer manually.

-- Ewan Spence, June 2009.